Schapendoes Symbolism and Meaning

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The Schapendoes is a rare breed of dog that originated in the Netherlands and is known for its unique appearance, intelligence, and versatility. This article will delve into the symbolism and meaning behind this fascinating canine, exploring its history, characteristics, and cultural significance.


The Schapendoes, also known as the Dutch Shepherd Dog, is a breed that has been around for centuries, with roots dating back to the 17th century. This medium-sized herding dog is characterized by its distinctive curly coat and striking appearance. Its name is derived from the Dutch words “schapen” (sheep) and “doos,” which means “dog.” It has been used for various purposes, including herding sheep and cattle, guarding property, and even serving as a family companion. In this article, we will explore the symbolism and meaning behind this breed, examining its history, characteristics, and cultural significance.

History of Schapendoes

The Schapendoes has been an essential part of Dutch farming communities for centuries. They were bred to be versatile working dogs, capable of herding sheep and cattle while also serving as loyal companions. The breed’s origins can be traced back to the 17th century when they were developed by crossing various local dog breeds with Spanish dogs brought over by Dutch merchants from the Canary Islands. Over time, these dogs became popular among farmers due to their intelligence and adaptability. They were used for herding tasks on small farms where they could handle different terrains and weather conditions. The Schapendoes’ versatility made them an invaluable asset to farmers who needed a dog that could work long hours outdoors, protecting livestock from predators and assisting with daily chores.

Characteristics of Schapendoes

The Schapendoes is a medium-sized breed weighing between 40-65 pounds and standing at about 19-23 inches tall. They have a curly coat that comes in various colors, including black, gray, blue merle, and fawn with or without white markings. Their coat requires regular grooming to maintain its appearance and prevent matting. These dogs are known for their intelligence, making them easy to train and highly adaptable. They are also known for their loyalty and strong bond with their owners, which is why they make excellent family pets.

Appearance: Schapendoes have a curly coat that requires regular grooming to maintain its appearance. Their eyes are almond-shaped and expressive, while their ears are medium-sized and floppy. They possess a strong jawline with a black nose and a long tail that curls over their back when relaxed.

Temperament: Schapendoes are intelligent, friendly, and protective of their family. Their temperament makes them excellent watchdogs, making them suitable for families seeking a loyal companion. They’re also known for being agile and energetic, enjoying outdoor activities like hiking or playing fetch.

Health: This breed is generally healthy but prone to hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help maintain their health.

Symbolism of Schapendoes

The Schapendoes symbolizes hard work, loyalty, and adaptability. Their ability to herd livestock demonstrates their intelligence and dedication to their tasks. They are symbols of resilience and determination, as they thrive in challenging environments.

Symbolism in Art: In art, the Schapendoes often represent dutifulness and loyalty. Paintings depict them working alongside farmers, showcasing their role in Dutch farming culture. Their presence in artwork reflects their importance to rural life during the 17th century.

Cultural Significance of Schapendoes

The Schapendoes holds cultural significance in the Netherlands as a symbol of Dutch heritage and tradition. They are often depicted in paintings, sculptures, and literature, highlighting their role in agriculture and farming communities. The breed is celebrated for its contribution to the country’s agricultural history.


In conclusion, the Schapendoes represents hard work, loyalty, and adaptability. Their versatility makes them an essential part of Dutch culture and history. They are symbols of dedication and resilience in the face of challenging conditions. The breed’s cultural significance is evident through art forms that depict their role in farming communities. Understanding the Schapendoes’ symbolism helps appreciate this remarkable dog breed better, recognizing its importance to Dutch heritage.

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